The Process of Public Tenders

Process of Public Tenders

"Hands Up."

By a show of hands, how many of us have, at one point or another, attempted to submit a proposal for a public tender. While I cannot see the outcome of my question, I know that majority of you have your hands up.

And we all know that the worst part of this process is when we receive that dreaded communication to say that we were not successful and after submission of tons of documents, we sit and wonder how it is possible that we were not successful. So, after spending many years in the public procurement sector, we thought it best that we provide you with a summary insight into how the public tender process works. This process is summarised into several steps below

Searching for tenders that match our requirements

The South African Government has several manners which tenders are advertised, such as:

  • National Treasury Website

  • Government Bulletins

  • Advertisements in newspapers (seldom)

 Once we read the synopsis of the tender, we make a determination that this specific tender matches the goods that we supply or services that we offer.

In some cases, a Joint venture can be created to meet the requirements of the tender.


Obtaining bid documents

 Once we realise the tender meets the requirements of our business or a JV with another business, either for a service or a supply of goods, we obtain the bid documents from the government portal.

In some cases, the bid document is a free download or minimal cases, we would have to pay to obtain the bid documents.

This is a very simple exercise.


Check bid requirements

 This is the most important part of the process. Once we receive the bid documents, we tend to be so excited that we start preparing for the tender without reading the contents of the bid documents. Our advice to you is to read the bid document and makes notes as you are going along. Pay particular attention to the following, which will be explained in detail in the sections to come:
  • Compulsory Briefing session

  • Closing date and time

  • Number of bid documents required to submit and media required

  • Check required compulsory documentation to submit

  • Read the scope of work in detail

  • Check the scoring/evaluation criteria and what is required from us

  • Pricing

The summary of these sections are:

Compulsory briefing session

 In some tenders, the government department holds a compulsory or non-compulsory briefing session to further explain the tender, especially if it is complicated in nature.

It is in your best interest to attend the sessions, whether it is compulsory or not.

Check the date and time of the briefing session and make sure that when you are attending, you sign the briefing session register.

Make sure that if are unclear on any items, that you prepare questions for the team at the briefing sessions. Don’t feel shy to ask questions as there are many people attending that will have the same thoughts or questions.

Normally the tender administrator may not answer your questions, but will take down your questions and will also ask for set of questions to be sent to the administrator via email by a specific date. They will supply answers by a set date as well – normally displayed on the government website. These questions and answers will be key in you providing a comprehensive proposal.


Closing date and work backwards

 Check the closing date and ensure that when you work backwards that you can meet the deadline date and time – especially if there is detailed proposal required from your business.

Number of bid documents and media

Check the number of proposal documents required and media required for such proposal. In our experience, you can complete one original document and copy the balance, for the other copies required.

Also note that in some instances, you may require to copy the documents into a form of media i.e. a memory stick or flash disk.

It is important to note that you must complete and sign all SBD documents in conjunction with the proposal information.

 Compulsory documentation and pre-qualification criteria
It is important to check what compulsory documentation and pre-qualification criteria is required. These can be as follows, as a minimum:
  • Your business is registered on CSD

  • CSD pin is active

  • CSD report

  • Valid TCC pin and tax affairs are up to date

  • Company documents

  • Resolution of all directors to allow one director to sign bid documents

  • Any documentation for evaluation i.e. CV’s, letter of reference, any regulatory body documentation

Scope of work

Read the scope of work in detail and ensure that all aspects of scope of work and evaluation criteria are detailed in proposal. Make sure that proposal covers all aspects of criteria.


Scoring/evaluation criteria

Understand scoring and evaluation criteria and make sure that all submissions equal or mirror the scoring/evaluation criteria. Ensure that you meet ALL requirements for the scoring/evaluation criteria when putting together the final submission pack and proposal. This is very important – remember they will not know you and can only evaluate you on your tender submission. Therefore be very explicit in your submission as much as possible.


Understand in detail the pricing requirement and show your pricing exactly as the government department wishes to see it. Make sure that you use their template for pricing.


Understanding the Evaluation process

 The government tender process is evaluated according to 2 aspects:
  • Technical, and

  • Pricing

 Once you have the made the minimum threshold for technical, you pass into the price/BBBEE evaluation. By passing the minimum threshold, it is assumed that you have the minimum technical knowledge to execute on the requirement. At this point the calculation is therefore only based on price and BBBEE status.

The weighting of pricing/BBBEE process is normally as follows:

  • 80% for price and 20% for BBBEE on tenders not exceeding R50million, or

  • 90% for price and 10% for BBBEE on tenders in excess of R50million

 This scenario then logically creates the path for the supplier who is the most transformed combined with the cheapest tender value submitted. Hence we should remember that we should be as price competitive as possible without comprising the business into the future.

Create project plan

 Once we have understood all the requirements for the tender, we should create a project plan for drafting the proposal and make that all parties involved in the tender understand what their requirements are, in order to meet the deadline.

Double and Triple check documents

 Always check all documents and create a checklist before submission. Run through all items in the proposal and ensure all documents are properly completed and marked.

Sign Final documents

Make sure that you sign all final documents for submission. This is important and you could be excluded from further consideration if all pages are not signed.

Pack and Submit

Finally consolidate all information/documents. Create a table of contents and compile the proposal according to this table. Make sure all items are easily referenced and is filed according to the requirements of the tender. Always file the SBD/Admin documents first and then compile the proposal information thereafter and consolidate.

Hopefully the content of this article at least gives you an idea of the process of public tenders and what is required from us as entrepreneurs/business owners/business captains etc. Often, we found that we take too much for granted in the submission of our tender documents and end up being unsuccessful in tender.

As an organisation, we often run half day or full day online courses on public procurement processes and during such courses we provide more detail, guidance and assistance on the public procurement process. If you are interested in such courses, please don’t hesitate to contact us on

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